Mar 302010

Some days are just too hard to write about. Like today. Today’s my baby Sister’s birthday. Tomorrow she leaves me for Rwanda for 9 months. Where she’ll use her law degree, her courage, and her faith to fight to protect brutalized little girls for whom noone has ever fought before.

So instead of writing, I sit here and think. Or try not to, rather. And I stare at pictures of her on my computer and I swallow hard. I have no clue where to start, or what to say, or how to even pray. So I think, I’ll just write nothing. It’s too hard. Everyone will understand. Sister will understand. And so I close up the blog. Nothing today, friends.

And I open my email, and this message is waiting from Lou. My Lou, your Lou. The Lou we all met through Momastery. And she writes this:

I’ve been thinking about Sister too. I hope you are posting the prayer for Sister this week. I still like that prayer, G. Usually whenever I go back and read something I wrote, I want to edit it. But I don’t have that feeling with that prayer.

Here’s Lou’s prayer. It’s by my bed. I am going to pray it every morning and every night until my baby sister is back in my kitchen. Cooking, preferably. I would love it if you would pray it once too. Just reading it today counts as praying, of course. Everything counts as praying.

Dear God,

I’m scared. About Sister. I don’t want her and her family to be scared all the time. I want them to be able to sleep at night. And wake up with hope and faith and excitement. And have peaceful hearts throughout the day. I lay all my fears down at your feet. Pick them up and take them away from me. So I can be strong and fierce and continue to pray for her work in Rwanda. Where they need her. Those who are oppressed. Who live in fear daily. Hourly. Those who have been treated unfairly. For Sooooooo Loooong. Thank you for all the experiences in Sister’s life that prepared her for this time in this place. Rwanda. Protect her and keep her safe. And healthy.

Provide her just-in-time emotional, physical and spiritual rest, energy, and stamina. Sufficient and abundant preparation in all aspects. Safe travels. Safe shelter. And MORE SAFETY for God’s sake. Not too many bugs! Good companions… relational and professional. Someone who makes her laugh! Someone particularly blessed with whom she can share her burdens! All the expertise needed. God-given slip ups on the part of the oppressors and God-given contacts from the oppressed with people at IJM. A flannel pillow or some other cozy thing. Bravery and courageousness for her and all those working with her and for all justice seekers and for all the oppressed. Sunlight, stars, and the beauty of God’s creation! That the right people will be placed in the government and in power to do the right thing. That the laws are in place and changed as needed to rescue the oppressed. The sound of children laughing and singing! That hearts will be touched and changed because of the truth and light God shines through her on these situations in Rwanda. Beautiful hearts and good memories! That those who are rescued will be healed and comforted with bandages, and people, and rest, and the Lord. The smell of coffee or tea or some other lovely thing! That oppressors hearts would also be rescued and redeemed. Some justice here on earth! Just the right amount and kind of contact from home that she requires and desires. Powerful prayers continually being lifted up for her. Seeing and feeling God’s presence powerfully every day! Did I mention safety, Lord? Keep her safe and secure, not only in your love and faithfulness, but in one piece, because G needs her back home here when she’s done. Amen.


I love you, Baby Sister.

I’m glad I still have a little Amanda to hold while you’re gone.

She can’t cook, though, Sister.


Dec 182009

I’ve been thinking about Heather M. since she shared her fears about the huge changes on their way into her life. I like Heather. I’ve never met her, but I like her. I think she’s brave and humble and honest. I bet you guys do, too. Maybe God does too, and that’s why he keeps “blessing” the bejezus out of her.

I was rereading some letters from Bubba last night, and I came across this one. It’s a letter about hope that Bubba wrote to me after our family’s hardest year. He wrote it the Christmas after Sister’s divorce.

Heather, today this letter is for you.

Christmas 2007

Dear Glennon,

The leaves are gone. Mother Nature acted up a little. I don’t know where they went. It blew so hard for two days that they were just driven into the wooded areas or scattered so high into the sky that they haven’t had time to float back down again. It blew so hard that birds and little animals clung to the ground or braced themselves behind anything they could find. It toppled heavy swings and chairs and tore hanging things like birdhouses and feeders from their lines. It drove our boats almost, but not quite, onto the docks. And then it slowed and things stopped tumbling and when it finally ended it turned out that there was no lasting damage from it. It looked for awhile like the very water was out of control and would blow away. But that’s not how it really was, that’s just how it felt. Nothing was ruined or wrecked. The wind just carried a message that there is really nothing at all in our control except our reactions and decisions in the face of adversity. In the end it was just a hard blow. Just a lot of stuff scattered around that needed picking up, some adjusting and simple repair and then putting back in place. But then stuff isn’t people.

Last year at this time we were in a very hard blow. The family’s sky was dark and what had appeared to be solidly rooted in the ground and lashed down was torn and flying around us in a personal hurricane wind. The things of our lives flew around like twigs and dust. That storm promised to destroy many things that we hold dear. People were injured and strained to points of breaking. When it appeared to be reaching a crescendo it just intensified and intensified more. It shook the foundations of our very courage and threatened to break our faith. It went on for what seemed like a lifetime. Then, when it looked like it would go on forever and some may not survive, the wind began to slacken, feelings came to the ground. Some hit hard and some floated down but most remained intact. There was damage and it left everyone with a sense that life can not be trusted but in the end everyone was there. In the end there was one more there.

As the chaos began, Tish was born. She came as if to say, “this storm will blow and it will blow over, I’m here to stay. And I’m here to remind you of what is most important and what is possible. I’m proof that when life is most frightening and when life is most unsure that is what life is and life is still well worth it. I’m proof.” And now there is another one coming. Amanda. I can’t imagine how she will change my life, what she will bring me and what she will teach me. I can’t imagine wondering how I ever got by with just Chase and Tish but I know I will. I can’t remember when I wasn’t looking forward to and waiting for another grandchild. I can’t remember what I did before Chase (BC). Not too much I guess. Children always put things into perspective. When you can’t remember what you did before them it’s because what you did before takes a distant second as quick as a baby’s smile.

That’s why I made Tish’s Christmas gift this year. I want her to know, long after I’m gone, what she’s done for me and how much she’s come to mean to me, not to mention to her grandmother. She will soon become the “middle child” with all that comes with that role. So I want her to always have a reminder of her impact and her power to create love and happiness. I want her to have something to look at that tells her that her grandfather found her so special and so inspiring that he felt the need to make for her a symbol of their bond. So that’s what I did this year. I’m still working on it and have been since early November. I’ll have it finished in a day or two. You and Craig will be the custodians of it until she leaves home for her own place or until she marries. If I’m around, I’ll hang it for her. If not, Tisha will hand it to her. If neither of us makes it to that day, there is a letter to her that comes with it.

Storms and adversity come and take stuff and shake our courage and make us afraid of life; kids come and make us wonder why it was we felt so shaken and why we lost courage and they cause us to fear nothing. Thanks for bringing all this courage and joy into our lives.

Merry Christmas,

I love you,


Fear nothing, Heather. We can do hard things. Bubba promises.

Dec 072009

Lobsters, soon after they’re born, find one partner, lock claws, and walk together for the rest of their lives.
*I learned this lobster fact from Phoebe on Friends, so verify before sharing at a dinner party to avoid potential embarrassment.

Monkees, meet my Lobster, Amanda.

A Song She Can Sing In Her Own Company

I believe in believing in just a few, simple things.I believe that the beauty of believing is in your beliefs’ longevity and longsuffering and loyalty – that the greatest blessing is to live long enough, and open enough, to see your simple, few beliefs made real in the adventure of your life.

So, I have decided share my key beliefs with you.

[You will note that I have exerted much effort to avoid discussing many of my other, let’s say less-fundamental, beliefs with you.Sometime, it might be appropriate for us to discuss these.They include my unyielding belief that most people are doing the best that they can.That nothing is sexier than when a man stands up from the table when you come to the table and leave it.That refusing to ever say something about someone that you wouldn’t say in front of them is the highest form of living.That if you need to drink Coke with your bourbon, you’re not drinking proper bourbon, and that if you are drinking proper bourbon, it is a crime against humanity to drink it with anything other than ice.That it is not charity, but reward, to look for the goodness in others, because when you find it you can catch a glimpse of God.That people are unspeakably brave.That in this stormy, harrowing life –full of joy and miracles and suffering and nonsensical tragedy and struggles – maybe the key is not to decry the sun’s absence, but to cling gratefully to the few, rare souls who will stand in the rain with you for as long as it takes for the skies to clear.Perhaps we can discuss a little later.]

Mostly, though, I try to hold the idea that a few infallible beliefs are all we need, and exactly what we need, to sustain us and help us keep the most important things the only important things.So, these few beliefs are the center of me:

I believe in God and my family and the reality that you have to lose your life to find it.

And I believe that you have found your life when you find

A song that you can sing in your own company.

I believe in God and my family.I believe in God with the certainty that I believe that Sister loves me – even though you could never prove she does – because of the way she shows up, everyday, to save my life.I believe in God because he held me the morning I was curled up and broken on the couch on my porch – the morning I realized my dreams were crushed, every promise worth keeping was shattered, and the life, home and marriage I had built were gone.I believe in God because He stood watch at the bedside of my sorrow, nursed me to health, and restored me to a life that I could have not imagined before my suffering began.I believe in God because He is as present and real to me as the breeze that moves my hair and the leaves crunching under my feet – as He shows up, everyday, with a small miracle to let me know we’re boys, and where He wants us to take this adventuresome life.Just as some people pursue money because they have faith that it will afford them a life of security and comfort, peace and excitement, I pursue God because I can’t imagine a life more exciting, peaceful and adventuresome than the life we will have together.I believe in God because God shows up, everyday, to save my life.

I believe you have to lose your life to find it.I believe we spend a lot of our lives trying desperately to get what we don’t really need.And the trouble with that is we can never get enough of what we don’t really need – so we are constantly salivating and struggling but we remain hungry and empty.But when we finally break free from the belief that we need the things we don’t – when we give up on the standards of success and normalcy and progress that don’t come from within us but have been hoisted upon us – when we lose that life, we gain the possibility of living the life we were meant to live.“For what good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”Mark 8:36.

I believe that you have found your life when you find a decent melody; a song that you can sing in your own company.Ernest Becker wrote:“Most of our life is in large part a rationalization of our failure to find out who we really are, what our basic strength is, what thing it is that we were meant to work upon the world.”I think we learn our basic strength, that thing we were meant to work upon the world, when we find what breaks our heart.Or when we find what makes our heart hum.Or when we identify something that energizes and inspires us more than anything else on the planet.When we find that thing, that when we look upon it, we recognize ourselves.

You know that certain, specific feeling you have when you are somewhere new and strange and alone and you scan the room frantically for some familiar anything, and your anxious eyes suddenly rest on a smile you know and the foreign place is suddenly home, and a wave of warmth and comfort sweep over you?Just as our eyes scan for recognition of home in a strange place, I think our hearts do the same thing in this confusing world, overcrowded with so much that we don’t recognize in ourselves.And for each of us, there is a unique place where our heart’s gaze rests, and it is home – because it breaks our heart, or because it makes every fiber resonate with the joy of recognizing ourselves.Where our heart’s gaze rests, this is the thing that reveals the unedited version of ourselves – the raw, one-of-a-kind dreams and desires and passions that compose our souls.

I believe that we all crave to know and to respond to this thing – this thing where our heart’s gaze alone rests.To listen to this still small voice that whispers:I know the puzzle of your heart, and this is the piece that is your fit; this is the melody that is more beautiful to you than anyone else in the world.This is the song that you would sing over and over in your own company, if you never had to worry about what anyone else wanted to hear.

My dear friend Joanna is never more herself than when she is painting something that only exists in her exquisite brain, and because she is brave enough to create, the world sees colors and forms that would have never exist without her.The world needs Joanna’s thing.

My dear friend Allison was specifically crafted to be a friend.She will stand by her friends through anything – even when they are wrong, even when she shouldn’t – and she does it with every possible means of avoiding credit.Allison doesn’t feel her friends’ pain.She feels the pain her friends feel as if it were happening to her – because it is.I am convinced that Allison would rather burn up with me than leave me in a fire of my own making.The world, I, need Allison’s thing.

My dear friend Bill’s mind was made to mesmerize on Renaissance literature – he is brilliant at that thing – and students of the discipline for years to come will read his scholarship, and be fascinated and energized and full.The world needs Bill’s thing.

A beautiful, strong woman I know, Karishma, after attending elite undergraduate and law schools, left her fancy law firm job to become a Yoga instructor.I can only imagine she made this leap because practicing yoga makes her feel whole and integrated and calm and strong.And now she is delivering to stressed-out New Yorkers a place of tranquility and empowerment.The world needs Karishma’s thing.

I have a dear friend in New York, Michael, who loves to analyze stocks.He worked and prayed for years to land the position he is in now, projecting the viability and profitability of stocks.He is very happy, and he is helping lots of investors who don’t have his gift.The world needs Michael’s thing.

I met a woman last week – brilliant and beautiful – who wanted more than anything to use her law and business degrees to empower people to obtain better health care, but she had no idea whether this was possible or where to start.The world needs Kelly’s thing.

The world needs each of our things – each of our things we were meant to work upon the world.And each monkee deserves to walk this world to the hum of a decent melody – even if it sounds decent to her alone.

What’s your thing?